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April 2024

From Followers to Creators: How UGC Can Transform Your Brand Narrative

User-generated content (UGC) is content created by consumers about a brand, product, or service. This can take many forms, reflecting how individuals engage with and contribute to a brand’s narrative. 

Examples of various types of user-generated content:

  • Reviews and Testimonials: Users share their opinions and experiences with a product or service through written reviews or testimonials.

  • Social Media Posts: Users create content on various social media platforms, including updates, tweets, and posts that showcase their experiences with a brand. 

  • Videos and Vlogs: Users produce videos or vlogs to share detailed experiences, unboxings, or tutorials related to a product or service. Video content is engaging and visually represents user satisfaction, making it a powerful form of user-generated content.

  • Creative Content and Artwork: Some users express their appreciation by creating original artwork or creative content inspired by a brand. This can include illustrations, graphics, or other artistic expressions that showcase the user’s talent and enthusiasm for the brand.

Consumers are constantly inundated with advertising and marketing messages from various brands and with so many competing messages, consumers often disengage from traditional ads. But there’s a way to break through the clutter: authenticity.

According to the State of Social & User-Generated Content 2023, consumers trust content created by other users (UGC) the most. This shift in trust presents a golden opportunity for brands.

Incorporating UGC into marketing strategies can significantly contribute to a brand’s overall success and sustainability. Here are the main benefits for advertisers:

  • Increased Trust and Credibility: In a world saturated with advertising, consumers often view polished ads with scepticism and tend to trust recommendations and content from their peers more than traditional advertising messages. UGC comes from real people and feels more authentic, leading to increased trust and credibility for the advertised product or service.

  • Enhanced Engagement: UGC often generates higher levels of engagement because it is relatable and resonates with the audience on a personal level. These user-generated ads can spark conversations and interactions among viewers, creating a sense of community around the brand. This engagement is much more valuable than passive ad viewing, and users are more likely to interact with and share content that they find genuine and interesting.

  • Cost-Effective Marketing: Creating high-quality ad content can be expensive. UGC provides a constant stream of fresh content without the high production costs. Instead of investing resources in creating content from scratch, brands can leverage UGC created by their customers or followers.

  • Diverse Content: UGC showcases products and services from a variety of perspectives, giving advertisers a wider range of content to use in their campaigns.

  • Social Proof and Influence: People are more likely to trust recommendations from others like themselves. UGC provides social proof of its value and legitimacy, influencing purchasing decisions. This can encourage potential customers to try the product or engage with the brand themselves.

But, How Do We Get User-Generated Content?

It’s important for advertisers to create an environment where users are motivated to generate content for your brand. Whether through competitions, shareable experiences, or success story case studies, actively involving your audience in creating content fosters a sense of community and enthusiasm around the business.

  • Run Engaging Competitions and Challenges: Create competitions or challenges to inspire users to produce and share content linked to your brand. For example, launch a challenge prompting users to showcase imaginative ways of using your product. Offer prizes to incentivise engagement and cultivate excitement surrounding your brand. Nearly 70% of marketers agree social contests and campaigns boost engagement and conversions.

  • Create Shareable Experiences: Design experiences that naturally compel users to share. This could be through exciting events, product launches, or interactive online experiences. For instance, hosting an exclusive event or providing early access to a new product can create a buzz, prompting users to spread the word about their experiences.

  • Leverage Branded Hashtags and Campaigns: Encourage users to use branded hashtags when sharing content related to your brand. This can help you easily track and collect user-generated content. 

  • Solicit Direct User Feedback: Actively seek feedback from your users. This can be through surveys, reviews, or direct requests for opinions on social media. By engaging users in conversations, you gather valuable insights and foster opportunities for them to organically share their experiences.

  • Showcase User Success Stories: This could include before-and-after case studies or personal achievements related to your product or service. Share these stories on your website, social media, or in marketing materials, showcasing real-world instances of how your brand positively influences individuals.

Here are some good examples of UGC in action in the UK:

  • #ShotoniPhone: Apple's long-running campaign encourages iPhone users to share their photos on social media with the hashtag #ShotoniPhone. This showcases the capabilities of iPhone cameras and creates a sense of community among iPhone users.

  • #AsSeenOnMe: ASOS, a popular online fashion retailer, uses the hashtag #AsSeenOnMe to collect photos of customers wearing their clothes. This UGC helps potential customers see how the clothes look on real people and inspires them to create their own styles.

  • The Great British Bake Off: While not strictly a brand, "The Great British Bake Off" encourages viewers to recreate bakes from the show and share their creations on social media. This UGC extends the show's engagement beyond the television program and fosters a community of baking enthusiasts.

  • Glastonbury Festival: Many music festivals, like Glastonbury, encourage attendees to share their experiences on social media using a specific hashtag. This UGC creates a buzz around the festival and helps to promote it to potential future attendees.

  • National Trust: The National Trust, a conservation charity that looks after historic places and nature reserves, uses UGC to showcase the beauty of the sites they care for. They encourage visitors to share photos and stories of their experiences using designated hashtags.

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